Automation will force most people out of a job and society will eventually be forced to adopt some form of universal basic income. What then? What are people going to do when they no longer have to work?
Initially it seems like a nice problem to have as it will free people to do what they really want to do with their lives. But we define ourselves by how we contribute to society, for most people their career is the answer to who they are and what they do.
Some will spend all that extra time doing more of the things they already do with their free time: surfing the internet, watching movies and TV shows, and playing video games.
But there is an opportunity this future we are quickly hurtling towards will also create. Rather than just being passive consumers of content, people will all be able to become active participants in content creation.
More user created experiences
YouTube is the world’s third most visited site after Google (which also owns YouTube) and Facebook. 300 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute, and 3.25 billion hours of video are watched each month. Gone are the days when we rely solely on giant studios and networks for our entertainment as increasingly people are turning to other people for content.
Online content creation has become an industry unto itself as the number of YouTube channels earning six figures has increased by 50% year on year. Digital marketplaces for a wide variety of content creators are coming online allowing anyone who wants to become a digital entrepreneur.
This will impact how individual value is measured. Your worth will no longer come from the company you work for or the degree you have but by the popularity of your creations. A history of producing things people want will be all that has value.
The on-demand model
Passive consumption will also continue to grow and will become even more appealing and addictive than it is today.
130 million people now have Netflix accounts and that number is growing rapidly. The company got here by understanding the importance of creating easy and addictive user experiences. They started in 1997 selling home deliver DVDs and in 2007 switched to become the go-to live streaming on-demand platform that has made them the largest internet television network in America.
However their plan is to become the biggest entertainment network on earth and to get there Netflix is now harnessing artificial intelligence to customize their user interface to fit each person’s unique tastes. Here is CEO of Netflix Reed Hastings in a talk titled “leveraging AI to make user experience & entertainment addictive”.
Augmented social media
Facebook just launched what they are calling ‘Act 2’, which is going to take the social media giant away from its core product, social media, and refocus its efforts on augmented reality and artificial intelligence.
In a talk Mark Zuckerberg outlined his vision for the future of Facebook. He simultaneously launched the beta version of Facebook’s new augmented reality tool that will leverage their social media platforms; Facebook, Whatsapp, Snapchat and Instagram, to create the communities he has been talking about a lot lately.
Underlying all of the augmented reality applications, as well as the new messaging service and the new VR social media platform that they are also rolling out is machine learning algorithms (AI). Zuckerberg stated in his address that the application of AI to all that Facebook is doing will eventually allow the platform to replace all of the hardware in the real world with digital versions of them that look and feel just as real.
Another critical part of this plan is to make these platforms open and allow for anyone who wants to contribute to the creation of all the content that will go into them.
Virtual video gaming
Already having surpassed the film and music industries combined, video games are poised to grow even faster in the decade to come with the rise of virtual and augmented reality. The continued rise of E-gaming and live stream gaming platforms like Twitch will further this trend, already last year more people watched the league of legends finals than the NBA finals.
Immersive artificially intelligent entertainment
The biggest game changer will eventually come from immersive artificially intelligent entertainment. Once AI becomes good at writing novel code it will be able to create virtual experiences that can be crafted to each user, writing movies for you as you watch them and writing games for you as you play them, making it possible that no two people will ever play the same game or watch the same movie.
What kind of future is all of this creating?
For those that recognize and take advantage of all these changes it means a shift away from passive consumption to active selection of entertainment and the ability to participate in the creation of content. For those that don’t adjust and get stuck in the passive consumption model of the past the future will probably look something like this…
About the author
Benjamin Stecher is an independent Canadian researcher whose interests primarily include neuroscience, artificial general intelligence, education reform and China.
The Netflix Effect: Technology and Entertainment in the 21st Century by by Kevin McDonald and Daniel Smith-Rowsey
Streaming, Sharing, Stealing: Big Data and the Future of Entertainment by Michael Smith and Rahul Telang